Each year, thousands of students descend on the Bemidji area to attend BSU, with 5,136 enrollees for the 2018 fall semester.

In addition to the strong student population, BSU, along with Northwest Technical College, supports some 2,749 jobs.

"It's been a part of our community forever," Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews said. "The impact of a college town on a community is significant. Not only does BSU provide an education, it also gives a vehicle to customize regional workforce training."

Outside of educational and employment opportunities, BSU and NTC also generate an estimated $2.5 million in charitable donations and volunteer activities, according to Minnesota State.

And while BSU and NTC have a major impact on almost every sector of Bemidji, there are some challenges. Being a college town can lead to a crunch for local housing options.

According to Mary Thompson, the Headwaters Regional Development Commission Operations director, the impact from the university population is a larger-than-average level of rental housing.

Thompson said the data shows about half of those living in Bemidji are renters, both as a result of the student population and the workforce in the area.

"Everywhere else in the state, it's been difficult to get developers who're interested in building, because the numbers don't work,” Thompson said. “The rents they're going to capture won't cover those costs.

“In Bemidji, because the market is so tight, the rents are higher, so therefore, private developers are willing to build in Bemidji. So it's definitely an anomaly. We're getting private development most communities aren't seeing."

While more development is a plus for the community, though, Thompson said it does create a challenge for students to keep up with market rates.

"I think the affordability challenge will continue to be pronounced, especially for people in that $12 to $15 salary range," Thompson said. "From a college perspective, a student may be able to afford an efficiency or one-bedroom, but it will be more likely for them to room with some of their friends."

Considering that Bemidji is a growing community, Thompson said along with rent costs, another factor to consider with meeting population demand is where to build new homes.

"New housing stock will continue to be an issue, whether it's rental or single family," Thompson said. "In the city limits, there is very little land available for development. So, in order to increase capacity, there has to be infill, where existing lots can be redeveloped."

The population brought in by Bemidji's higher education institutions don't just impact housing, though. The city's infrastructure and identity are deeply tied to the university, with an entire century to build up the relationship.